A Dangerous Time

It’s the Least Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the Least Wonderful Time of the Year

I am a great believer in the Mayan calendar—not, mind you, of the many misconceptions relating to the end of the world and such. The Mayans were, in the long run, optimists. Their calendar begins with the creation of the world of humans on August 11, 3114 B.C. and just keeps chugging along. Whenever we come to the end of a baktun, as we may (or may not) have done in December 2012, when a bunch of nattering fools predicted the end of the world, we just move on to the next baktun. As Kurt Vonnegut would have said, “So it goes.”

In the meantime, the last five days of the Mayan 365-day year were called the uayeb, about which I wrote a year ago:

In the Haab’, or Mayan Solar Calendar, there are eighteen months of twenty days each. Where does that leave the other 5.25 days? To account for the difference, the Mayans created an intercalary five-day month referred to as the uayeb. Unlike other days in the Solar Calendar, the five days of the uayeb are thought to be a dangerous time….

According to Lynn Foster in Handbook to Life in the Ancient Mayan World, “During Wayeb, portals between the mortal realm and the Underworld dissolved. No boundaries prevented the ill-intending deities from causing disasters.” It was a time of fasting with abstention from sex and all celebrations. People avoided washing their hair or even leaving their huts during this time.

This being a Saturday, I will probably violate the spirit of Uayeb by going out for lunch and getting together with friends. There are other ways of honoring the Mayan gods, probably by not making any major decisions during this time unless I absolutely have to.